Rio de Janeiro – A Tantalising Taste Of Brazil

We are not beach people. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Add to that the prohibitive rates for less than appealing hotel rooms and we almost cut Rio de Janeiro out of our vacation plans, the main focus of which were Peru and Argentina. But with flights into South America routed via Sao Paulo, we decided to allot a couple of days to Rio to recuperate from the (26 hour) long flight, not really expecting to be wowed by the city.

The Cidade Maravilhosa stole our hearts.

View from Pão de Açúcar
View of Corcovado from Pão de Açúcar

We had been warned about muggings and street crime. But we never felt unsafe anywhere. Not in the gritty side streets of Santa Teresa nor while walking through Lapa at night. That didn’t mean danger didn’t exist. So we followed all the usual precautions…no bling jewellery or watches, very little cash and even a cheap spare camera in the evenings.

The beaches were grand of course. As was the Cristo Redentor. But we loved Santa Teresa, the beautiful inland neighbourhood we chose to stay in, faintly reminiscent of old Goa (a Portuguese colony in India).

-As also Oscar Niemeyer’s Museu de Arte Contemporânea in Niterói, our walk through Ipanema upto Lagoa and onto Parque Lage, the Sunday feria, the food – oh the food! – the divine caipirinhas, the samba at Rio Scenerium, and the bossa nova CD’s we picked up at Toca de Vinicius.

Praia de Botafogo from Corcovado
Praia de Botafogo from Corcovado. And along with a view of the boats of the Rio Yacht Club with the Morro da Urca and Pão de Açúcar in the background

Most of all we loved the spectacular natural landscape of this beautiful city. Every vantage point, and there were many, afforded breathtaking vistas of hills and valleys and fabulous beaches juxtaposed with densely packed pockets of urban construction that somehow blended seamlessly into that undulating terrain.

Rio de Janeiro stole our hearts.


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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

81 thoughts on “Rio de Janeiro – A Tantalising Taste Of Brazil

  1. We are not beach people either :D. Dear Madhu, esta cidade e perfeita pelo desafio 🙂

  2. congrats, you enjoyed Rio, though it is expensive; we had to choose a cheaper solution: on TV we could watch our president Joachim Gauck standing near the foot of the Jesus sculpture – and the lights made Jesus painted black-red-golden, the colors of our flag – absurd!

  3. oh, how lovely! am so glad you had a chance to see this – and to share this. while it is perfect for the current challenge, this story is a keeper in its own right. have never been to South America. yet. maybe some day? your views of Rio are beautiful.

  4. Beautiful photos that really capture the awe of Rio. We had a Brazilian exchange student in high school and we went to Brazil for a month to visit him after he went back home. This was a long time ago but even then it was a magical place and, like you said, the food and drinks were amazing. Yes, we were allowed to have a caipirinha or two while we were in Brazil.

  5. Madhu, your photos are just gorgeous. I’m glad you didn’t have any problems on your travels. Now you’ve got me thinking what type of camera I should take for our stroll thru Paris this summer.

  6. Beautiful views! Glad you were able to stay a bit for a visit.
    I have not been to Rio de Janeiro, but I spent some time in Sao Paolo on business. A great city and i enjoyed my visit, but my coworkers would not let me go anywhere alone because of the high crime. A different person took me out and about the city every evening after work, and each one of them had been mugged before, many at gunpoint.
    I still would like to visit Rio someday.

  7. Just loved the composition of the Framed Centro photo!

  8. We are not beach people either but I long to see Rio. Thanks for showing me another side of her Madhu. 🙂

  9. Lovely views, Madhu. I too have only spent a couple of days in Rio, and we also didn’t feel unsafe, but were careful.

  10. Such beautiful views, very well captured… 🙂

    Rio is on my “to do list”, these photos don’t make the wish less to but larger… 🙂

  11. I’m back again. Thank you for taking us to Rio! Beautiful natural landscape.

  12. Sounds much like the muggings and street crime here in South Africa Madhu. What a pity hey? But I am glad you could take some great shots and share the beauty with us. 🙂 *hugs*

    1. We weren’t even remotely aware of any kind of danger Sonel. I often wonder whether these things are blown out of proportion. But we didn’t want to take any chances. The children are in South Africa right now and equally forewarned 🙂 Is any big city different these days?

      1. Sometimes you have to wonder Madhu but always better to be careful.
        Your children? Well, that is wonderful! Where are they staying? Good thing you warned them and no, seems it’s happening all over, even in our little town.

        1. Daughter and her family. They flew to Kruger National park yesterday from Capetown. They sounded all excited about having spotted the big five already 🙂 So regretting not having joined them.

        2. Oh, that is awesome hon! I am sure they are going to enjoy it very much. It is beautiful there. 🙂

  13. I can always count on you to show off a place with beautiful photos and your writing makes the place come alive. Great post!


  14. Your description makes it sound fabulous and now I want to go there as well! You really are an excellent travel writer Madhu, such passion! Great photos too 🙂

  15. Wow! Beautiful aerial views… so this is how the birds view our world of make-believe! 🙂

  16. Madhu , some stunning photos, just reminded me of my trip and thought should visit again, I am excited to see all of them. thank you so much.

      1. Yes I did, it is just mesmerising city, but you have presented it very beautifully. and so Congratulations once again.

    1. Thank you Mithriluna. I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment with your busy schedule 🙂

  17. It sounds like you had a really wonderful, relaxing time there. The pictures make it look so tranquil. I hope to make it to Brazil one of these days!

  18. Madhu, what marvelous pictures of Rio. Your time there sounds lovely and the views “from above” are amazing. I think once I move back to the USA, I should focus my travels on South America, one continent where I’ve never been. 🙂

  19. One continent I have not travelled to – SA. In my bucket list when we hit the road in 2014. Thanks for this heads up, Madhu.

    Have a great weekend,

    1. You are most welcome Eric. South America is so full of wonders, a year would be too short 🙂

  20. I’m happy you enjoyed your stay. It’s really one of the most beautiful sceneries ever and you cared right for your safety.

    1. Thank you! And pleased to meet you Luiz 🙂
      I hope to return someday and explore the rest of Brazil. Minas Gerais as well hopefully. Keeping my fingers crossed 🙂

  21. your photos are wonderful – it definitely makes one want to go to Rio. I think one of the photos is taken from a cable car? but where did you get the beach shot? did you go in a helicopter over the city?

    1. Thank you Rosie 🙂 The beach shot was from Sugar Loaf Mountain. You get a panoramic view over the bay from its summit, and we were fortunate to have had a clear day.

    1. Absolutely 🙂 I was surprised by how good and evolved the food scene was Emily. We had some of our best meals ever there and also in Cusco!!

  22. Never been to Rio, but my husband used to talk about it some years ago. You tempt me… Beautiful views, perfect for the challenge!

    1. Oh you should go if you can, it truly deserves the tag of ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ 🙂

    1. Oh yes it was so worth it 🙂
      That figure includes layovers of course, but the 15 hour stretch from Dubai to Sao Paulo was the longest I had flown ever. And then we had to contend with another two hour layover before our short flight to Rio. Emirates announced direct flights to Rio and Buenos Aires a month later!

  23. What a wonderful gallery and love text – I have never been in Rio, wish I had when I was in the neighborhood – in Chile and Argentina. Wonderful choice for the challenge. The header photo is my favorite of this great bunch.

    1. Thank you Viveka. I haven’t been to Chile. South America is so huge, it is impossible to include every country in one visit, unless you are one of those lucky souls on a year long vacation 🙂 Hoping I can return, one more time to visit Ecuador, Colombia and the rest of Brazil at least.

      1. Madhu, it doesn’t matter how much we travel … there is always somewhere we haven’t been … that is what is so amazing with our world – and the best of it is that somebody else has been there and so happy willing sharing it with us … here.

  24. Ahhh Rio Rio Rio – a wonderful city and one in which I never felt threatened. We watched the Rolling Stones play to 1.2 million people on Copacabana beach from a balcony of the Copacabana Palace – something I will never, ever forget…… 🙂

    1. Wow! That must have been some experience! I so wanted to catch some live Bossa Nova or Jazz performance, but we just didn’t have the time. I shall HAVE to return 🙂

  25. perfect choice madhu, your writing really makes rio tempting … and a bossa nove cd sounds like fun!

    1. Oh the Bossa Nova shopping was fun! You need a lot more time to get into the music scene there. Would love to return during Carnival. Thanks for reading Christine 🙂

  26. And what a souvenirs! You can’t imagine how many days I spent in this wonderful city… I still have the capirinha taste in my brain 😀
    but there are several places that tourists don’t visit.
    Perhaps for fear?
    Maybe because they don’t think to find something interesting?
    I found special people in the favelas, special situations which I couldn’t find on other occasions… Candombè’s celebrations… other rituals…
    But this belongs to “my” story …
    A peaceful weekend, dear Madhu :-)claudine

    1. You are fortunate to have had so many days in Rio Claudine. Would love to read ‘your story’ 🙂 We are determined to return to Rio, and explore the rest of Brazil too. Running out of time though.

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